Suppression of alpha-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid matrix clusters and reduction of chemical noise in MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry

Smirnov, I. P., Zhu, X., Taylor, T., Huang, Y., Ross, P., Papayanopoulos, I. A., Martin, S. A., Pappin, D. J. (May 2004) Suppression of alpha-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid matrix clusters and reduction of chemical noise in MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Anal Chem, 76 (10). pp. 2958-65. ISSN 0003-2700 (Print)0003-2700 (Linking)

DOI: 10.1021/ac035331j


Progress in high-throughput MALDI-TOFMS analysis, especially in proteome applications, requires development of practical and efficient procedures for the preparation of proteins and peptides in a form suitable for high acquisition rates. These methods should improve successful identification of peptides, which depends on the signal intensity and the absence of interfering signals. Contamination of MALDI samples with alkali salts results in reduced MALDI peptide sensitivity and causes matrix cluster formation (widely reported for CHCA matrix) observed as signals dominating in the range below m/z 1200 in MALDI spectra. One way to remove these background signals, especially for concentrations of peptides lower than 10 fmol/microL, is to wash matrix/sample spots after peptide cocrystallization on the MALDI plate with deionized water prior to analysis. This method takes advantage of the low water solubility of the CHCA compared to its alkali salts. We report here that the application of some ammonium salt solutions, such as citrates and phosphates, instead of deionized water greatly improves the efficiency of this washing approach. Another way to reduce matrix cluster formation is to add ammonium salts as a part of the MALDI matrix. The best results were obtained with monoammonium phosphate, which successfully suppressed matrix clusters and improved sensitivity. Combining both of these approaches-the addition of ammonium salts in the CHCA matrix followed by one postcrystallization washing step with ammonium buffer-provided a substantial ( approximately 3-5-fold) improvement in the sensitivity of MALDI-MS detection compared to unwashed sample spots. This sample preparation method resulted in improved spectral quality and was essential for successful database searching for subnanomolar concentrations of protein digests.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: Investigative techniques and equipment
Investigative techniques and equipment > spectroscopy > mass spectrometry
Investigative techniques and equipment > spectroscopy
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Pappin lab
Depositing User: Matt Covey
Date: 15 May 2004
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2013 21:37
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2013 21:37
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